Today (December 3), the Jade Music Festival winds up in Vancouver after five days of exhilarating music and highly educational conference events.
On the final day from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the festival continues its “Seeing” the Music exhibition in the 700 block of Granville.
Visitors can view four works of art, each inspired by a Chinese-language song. On-site, they snap an image of a QR code to listen to the music as they observe the painting.
For example, a Taiwanese Canadian artist, Lady Hao Hao, created the image above. She based it on “Womxnly”, by Taiwanese superstar Jolin Tsai.
Tsai themed her song around anti-bullying, gender, and sexuality. It came as a result of the death of a Taiwanese junior high school student, Yeh Yung-chih.
Yeh repeatedly suffered abuse in the school bathroom until the final incident, which led to Yeh’s death.
“We’re hoping people can listen to the music and try to understand what Lady Hao Hao is telling them,” said Charlie Wu. He’s general manager of The Society of We Are Canadians Too, which organized the Jade Music Festival.
As part of “Seeing” the Music, another Vancouver artist, Li Tung, created a work of art inspired by Singaporean singer Tanya Chua’s “Into the Wild”.
Wu said that this work reflects Li’s love of nature.
Two more Lady Hao Hao works in exhibition
Beijing-based musician Cui Jan led Lady Hao Hao to another burst of creativity with his song “Nothing to My Name”.
“The artist was moved by the straightforward and blunt language of the love song,” the Jade Music Festival states on its website. “While the lyrics remain open-ended, the artist hears the faith of the girl to follow her lover, and the courage of the speaker to demand love despite having nothing.”
Meanwhile, Hong Kong artist Phil Lam’s “Mountain and Valley” influenced her third work.
“Taking on an abstract feel, the artist is inspired by the determination of the singer to climb to the top, even when it seems impossible,” the festival notes. “The numerous obstacles that crop up in life’s climb can push us to the verge of giving up, yet we all still yearn to reach the view at the top, regardless.”
Lady Hao Hao, like many immigrants, worked hard to learn English and fit into Canadian society. According to the Jade Music Festival website, the “silver lining” of not always succeeding resulted in her relearning her heritage and identity.
“The cultural differences in Canada have also allowed her to appreciate herself as a person,” the website says. “In the world of arts, differences in cultures are easily conveyed; it has opened up the world for her. Finding herself is the biggest gift of her moving to Canada.”
Fest focuses on Chinese-language music
TD is presenting the Jade Music Festival.
The Society of We Are Canadians Too organized events, with the goal of making Vancouver a hub for Chinese-language music production in North America.
Wu pointed out that the Canadian Live Music Association raised concerns about the underrepresentation of BIPOC artists in its 2022 Closing the Gap report.
“Chinese language music fits into that,” Wu said. “In Toronto, Mandarin is the second-most-spoken language.
“In Vancouver Cantonese and Mandarin are the second- and third-most spoken languages, but we have not had music artists that use the language to actually make a career right here in Canada,” he added. “So we think this is the untapped potential for Vancouver.”
He emphasized that other Chinese languages also shouldn’t be forgotten in pursuit of this mission.
To reinforce this, the festival featured Hakka singer-songwriter Yu Han Huanng on Friday (December 2) at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. She appeared in a lineup that included English-singing pop star Tyler Shaw and singer-songwriters Van Lefan (who sings in English and Mandarin) and Athena Wong (who sings in Cantonese).
Shaw was born in Richmond; Lefan moved to the Lower Mainland as a child; and Wong immigrated to B.C. 10 years ago to attend Simon Fraser University.
“We can produce music here,” Wu said. “We have homegrown artists.”